Last month I joined the LdnBurgerRun, a social group of runners organised through Instagram running for a burger. Simple concept. Great concept. I had a great time and was definitely going back for some more.
I’d met Tommy a few times now and he was looking for some support with the group. I’d let him know I’d be happy to help where I can and he asked me if I could pace one of the groups for the February run. Abso-bloody-lutely. I was to pace the 9:30 – 10:00 min mile group along with Kirsty who I’d met at the last run. We’d be popping out 13 miles on the way to Byron Burgers.
Leading up to the day I’d been banging on about it to so many people. In the end a number of mates joined me for the day – Alex (who came to the last one also), my flat mate Nathan (who doesn’t do long distance), Yvette from NSL/Cool Cats, Nick from my last Run With Dai and Mike – who’ll soon be joining me for a run! It was set to be a good day.
Alex is balls-deep in his training for the Brighton Marathon now and was looking to up his distance this weekend. 20miles was his target. I told him I’d join him for 5 miles before the run (he was going to join the faster pace group who would cover 15 miles on the day). The night before I plotted out a route from Stockwell to Hyde Park to get us those 5 miles. We were prepped. It would be an early start (me getting up at 5:30 to get to Stockwell in time to do our 5 miles before the burger run began).
My neighbours were having a party that night. Me and Nathan had agreed to go so we popped in to say hello and have a chat. Not quite what we were expecting as the flat (currently in between tenants) was set up for a bit of a rave! Turns out the owners like a bit of a dance and a party and there was a lot of time spent ‘mixing the tunes’. It was a little odd, as there were less than 10 of us there. We couldn’t really talk with the music so loud but either way tried to enjoy ourselves before making the excuse (valid!) to leave. Whilst we went to sleep the music continued, Nathan’s room vibrating to the beats. Ha, he’d be a barrel of laughs in the morning!
Morning came and I was up and out to meet Alex. We headed off chatting all sorts of shit, looping to Vauxhall and into Battersea park before heading through Chelsea to Hyde Park. As we cooled off outside the café in the morning chill, the numbers of runners started to arrive. And arrive they did. The turn out this month was huge. There must have been close to 50 runners from all backgrounds and experiences. It was set to be a good day!
Jon (the other face behind the group) led us in a warm up and gave an overview of the route. There would be hills. This caused a few sighs and groans in the group, but a big smile from me. To be fair, chatting to Jon in the week and having downloaded the route, I knew what was to come!
Everyone moved to their pacers and we were set to go. Sadly Kirsty wasn’t able to make it on the day, so Tommy joined with me to herd the group around. This meant one thing – Party Group! With his speaker on and selection of 90s hits pumping, we set off.
This was only the second time I’d used my Suunto and followed a pre-planned route. On the way in the morning I had to google how to set up the navigation and breadcrumb trail. I might have been a tad unprepared! On the whole the route was easy to follow. Given the granularity of the breadcrumb trail, there were a few wrong turns in Regents Park and Hampstead Heath. But we were broadly on track.
The first part of the run saw us leave Hyde Park, up into and around Regents Park before regrouping at Primrose hill. The first 4 miles were done, the first hill conquered and the first photo stop posing completed. The next section of the route saw us head through Camden and up Belsize Park towards Hampstead Heath. The long, gradual stretch of uphill running was starting to take its toll on the group, but they all powered on like champs! We cut over into Hampstead Heath and veered slightly off the track, but, there were muddy paths we could wind along in the general direction needed. Result. Hills and mud. I was smiling at least. We took a little detour out at the top of the Heath to stop at Kenwood house for a much needed toilet break. Some snacks consumed and off we went again, heading towards Parliament Hill where we found all the other pace groups already waiting. Somehow along the way, probably with the few wrong turns and detours, we’d ended up ‘at the back’.
A few moments and more photos later it was time to get moving again. Thankfully we had now conquered most of the hills and it was simply a matter of the long straights back down towards Soho.
The rain was starting to fall but the tunes were still pumping. There was a sudden sense of urgency from some of the group (combination of the music and the desire to bet the rain I think) and the pace increased somewhat – we were running some 9 min miles. To those who felt this increase more than others – my apologies! I was struggling to contain it at this point. Something I’ll improve if I get the chance to pace again!
As we were approaching Tottenham Court road we had some wildly varying distances covered on the various GPS devices runners had. My own was already saying we’d covered the 13 miles. I was pretty sure our detours weren’t that substantial! Either way, the group soldiered on. This wasn’t an easy ask for those already running further than they had before. Big respect to you all for powering through.
As we reached Piccadilly Circus, a few of the group carried on for a few more miles. The rest of us headed to the restaurant to warm up, consume some (loads) of calories and chat with everyone else. The burger was filling and the milkshake intense. I was done. I couldn’t move.
What another great day of running and meeting people. So many new faces, so many new stories shared. It’s exciting and inspiring to hear about all the adventures and journeys people are on. There were those casual runners, those training for marathons (so many doing London, Brighton and Berlin this year!) and those training for the insane – like 100 miles in the Florida Keys! Great to talk to everyone and promises to chat more in future to those I didn’t spend much time with!
As I relaxed that evening I started to wonder, how have I ended up at the stage where a 13 mile run on a Saturday becomes a 20 mile run as standard?! I just cannot say no to running!